Guest Post: Marketing Monsters by Ann Charles
By Ann Charles
I love monsters. I love to include monsters in the stories I write. BUT marketing monsters and the horror that usually accompanies them in books is not nearly as easy as selling mystery or romance. Over the years and the multiple series I’ve written that include monsters on the pages, I’ve learned a few tricks to making horror a little more marketable.
First of all, if humor is in your wheelhouse, then adding some lightness to your tale here and there can make monsters more palatable for a wider range of readers. Whether your stories are meant to just give off a few chills here and there or to keep readers awake all night with all of the lights blazing throughout the house, a little humor can add some fun and depth to your characters and books. In addition, hooking potential fans in your marketing ads for your stories is often easier with a funny quote or line. For example, on the marketing ads and promotional pieces for book 6 of my Deadwood Mystery series, MEANWHILE, BACK IN DEADWOOD, I used this line, “There is only so much FREAKY CRAP a woman can handle.” This combines both the horror element in the story and the humor sprinkled throughout.
Another option is to blend in other genres with your monster tales to make the books appeal to more readers. Those who read my books know that I’m going to give them a story filled with puzzle-solving elements of mystery, spicy bits of romance, creepy slices of horror, and fast-paced pages of action-adventure, to name a few sub-genres. By including multiple genres between the front and back cover, I’m engaging a potentially larger audience who are willing to cross over into multiple genres, and I’m also trying to give my readers more bang for their book bucks.
In this industry, there are genres that sell better than others—that is a marketing fact. Romance, for example, has a very large following. So do mysteries. Many fans of both of these genres are not purists. They are open to so much more as long as you include romance and/or mystery on the pages, too. Just make sure you give the readers enough of the other elements to satisfy them, and include these sub-genres in your marketing materials or book covers. An example is the fourth book in my Deadwood Mystery series, BETTER OFF DEAD IN DEADWOOD, which includes a hint of romance due to the close positioning of the hero and heroine on the cover.
A third way to convince more readers to give your monster-filled stories a try is to think outside of the box when it comes to marketing. Study what others in your genre are doing in their ad copy, on their book covers, and via visible hooks on promotional pieces.
- What appeals to you?
- What looks the most professional?
- What makes you shiver in anticipation and want to hit that buy button?
- How could you take this information and spin it in a new way to reach readers?
Sure, you could say, “If you like Stephen King, then you’ll want to buy <<YOUR BOOK HERE>>,” but that’s been done and then some. You have to figure out a way to stand out—to stop a reader mid-scroll and make them back up and check out your book(s).
One of the promotional illustrations that I used for the second book in my Dig Site series, MAKE NO BONES ABOUT IT, is a slightly evil looking Maya sun design (original art drawn by my illustrator, CS Kunkle) that was well received by many current and potential readers. Coupling it on the bookmark with the original dig site map I created for the story, and it hooks the readers on multiple levels, plus it gives them a “tool” to make reading the story even more entertaining.
While there are many diehard horror readers out there, selling monsters is not always an easy feat. However, if you work some other genres into your story and try to sell your books by focusing on various elements in the cover design, back cover copy, marketing ad copy, and/or promotional pieces, you can share your love of creepy, hair-raising monsters (or just comical beasts) with so many additional readers.
USA Today Bestselling author, Ann Charles, writes spicy stories full of comedy, mystery, adventure, suspense, romance, and supernatural mayhem. When she’s not dabbling in fiction, she’s arm wrestling with her two kids, attempting to seduce her husband, and arguing with her sassy cats. Her next book (co-written with her husband, Sam Lucky), titled CAN’T RIDE AROUND IT, is the third book in their Deadwood Undertaker series and will be available on September 28, 2020. It’s a blend of supernatural, humor, and western fiction, and it has plenty of monsters to keep readers on the edge of their seats.
You can find out more about Ann, including where she hangs out on social media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and more) and how to reach her on her website “Connect” page: http://anncharles.com/connect/
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Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!